Mon, Feb. 24

Verde Heritage 1919: WOBBLIES ORDER STRIKE

Labor problems in Jerome resulted in the deportation of members of the Industrial Workers of the World, or I.W.W., a labor union, usually called the "Wobblies," on July 10, 1917. Labor problems continued so Wobblies ordered a strike to begin at 6 o'clock on the evening of February 10, 1919.

"'To the United Verde Copper Company: This is to notify you that the employees of the United Verde Copper Company, in mass meeting assembled, on the night of February 8th, have absolutely declined the proposed reduction in wages of 75 cents per day.'"

"'We will live up to the Lewis agreement. Until the arrival of the federal administrator we will work under protest. (Signed) B. F. Morris, Cy Webb, Henry Morris, Scotty Harvey, William Griffiths, H. G. Hewitt; Clarkdale, Arizona.'"

"In spite of the fact that the Central Labor Union, which includes every legitimate labor organization in Jerome, has decided to remain at work pending the arrival and adjudication of Federal Administrator Hywel Davies, the I.W.W. are going to try to pull a strike at 6 o'clock this evening."

"Following is the official statement of the grievance committee of the Central Union, issued early this morning:"

"'Pending the arrival of Hywel Davies, federal mediator, it has been decided that the men shall return to work under protest.'"

"'They do not accept the 75 cent cut, contending that the agreement signed with the government and fixing the present wage scale was to continue for the duration of the war and until the signing of the final peace treaty. (Signed) Fred Temme, R. O. Randel, J. E. Stowe.'"

"UNION STAND: The unions take the stand that the machinery set up for the adjudication of labor questions has authority until the end of the war, and that the war does not end until the peace treaty is signed. They believe that when Administrator Davies comes he will order the copper companies to pay the old wage scale, dating back to today. In other words, they expect back wages to make up for the cut when Davies issues his order. Secretary of Labor Wilson has wired that Davies will be sent to Jerome and it is hoped that he will arrive within a week."

"At Clarkdale the unions have decided to take the same action as has been taken in Jerome. Representatives of the Clarkdale organizations attended the mass meeting Saturday night and outlined the plan, urging its adoption here."

"The executive committee's statement was in accordance with the views of the majority expressed at the mass meeting held in the Miners' Union Hall last Saturday evening. There were some radicals at that meeting who wanted to refuse to accept the wage cut, effective today, but cooler heads pointed out that under union rules a strike could not be called in that informal way. In a regular union 24 hours' notice of a strike vote must be given and then the voting must be by ballot."

"A FEW DRAW TIME: Today a few United Verde employees drew their time but with the exception of Wobbly agitation going on along Main Street events moved in their normal course. The mines and smelters of the Verde district operated as usual."

"WOBBLIES MEET: Shortly after 11 o'clock a general exodus down the County Road was noted. Just outside the city limits on the old Walnut Gulch Road, and on ground belonging to the Hull Copper Company, the Wobblies congregated. The city police department took no cognizance of this gathering and the only peace officer looking on was Deputy U. S. Marshal Harry Carlson."

"James Chapman took charge of the meeting as chairman and announced that it has been called to decide whether the wage cut should be accepted. He called on all in favor of striking move from the hillside down upon the road. All moved and the vote was declared unanimous."

"It is estimated that there were about 250 persons present. Counting out the mere spectators and curiosity seekers, the number of I.W.W. was probably 150."

"A motion was made and carried that the chairman be empowered to appoint an executive committee, headed by himself, to confer with the peace officers, the commander of the detachment of troops stationed here, and otherwise direct the strike. Chapman did not know the names of all appointees but Sullivans predominated. Harry, Mike and Pat Sullivan were selected. Another committeeman was Jim Cronin. To show that he was not partial to the Irish, Chapman then chose committeemen to represent the Mexicans and Austrians."

"In closing the meeting, Chapman stated that the intention was to conduct the strike in an orderly manner. He declared that repetitions of the Jerome and Bisbee deportations [July 10, 1917] 'won't be stood for.' 'Be on the picket line at 6 o'clock,' he urged."

"AT OTHER MINES: The day shifts at the Shea and Grand Island did not go to work this morning and those properties are temporarily shut down. The Verde Combination is working with half the regular force. So far the Jerome Verde, Gadsden and Green Monster are not affected but it is feared that the Gadsden will be compelled to close at 4 o'clock as it is said that the night shift will not go on."

(Verde Copper News; Monday, February 10, 1919; page 1.)


The Verde Independent; "1917: JEROME; Picketing Starts July 6;" 2 articles July 8, 2013; "1917: JEROME; International Union Members Vote;" July 8, 2013; "1917: JEROME; Wobbly Intimidation, July 9;" July 9, 2013; "1917: JEROME; I.W.W.'s Driven Out, July 10;" July 10, 2013; "1917: JEROME; Undesirables Go In Cattle Cars, July 10;" July 11, 2013; and "1917: JEROME; Wobbly Leaders Jailed;" July 11, 2013.

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